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Sparks to consider appealing fire chief lawsuit decision


The Sparks City Council on Monday will consider whether to appeal the court decision in the lawsuit filed by the city’s former fire chief.

Mark Lawson, who was chief for mere days late last year, was fired by City Manager Neil Krutz after criminal charges against Lawson were revealed. Krutz, in a YouTube video, however, said he asked for Lawson’s resignation, which Lawson allegedly agreed to.

Sparks City Manager, Neil Krutz.
Sparks City Manager, Neil Krutz.

That contradiction is part of Lawson’s lawsuit against the city. Lawson accused Krutz of lying about resigning, which he said was defamatory. That was along with Krutz also announcing criminal charges were going to be filed against Lawson.

Washoe County District Court Judge Kathleen Drakulich agreed, in part, with Lawson.

“Mr. Krutz’s statement that Mr. Lawson agreed to resign, if untrue as Plaintiff claims, supports Plaintiff’s allegations regarding the appearance of an admission of guilt as to the criminal offenses and whether he was fit for his job and casts him in a false light before the public,” Drakulich wrote. “Thus, Defendants’ request to dismiss claim for relief (5) False Light is denied.”

Sparks sought to dismiss the case with an anti-SLAPP motion, which Drakulich only partially granted. 

The council will decide whether to appeal her decision. 

A status conference in the criminal case against Lawson is scheduled for July 26, 2023 in Reno Justice Court. He is facing charges of possession and selling controlled substances. His attorney said he had commonly used bodybuilding supplements.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.